The PTE Newsletter – Wednesday 5 May

Where did that Bank Holiday weekend go? Hopefully everyone managed to get some rest at some point – it’s been a busy term so far, and looks likely to stay that way all the way through to half term.

The Big Ask

The new Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, has launched The Big Ask – the largest ever consultation with children aged 4 to 17 in England.

It aims to find out children’s concerns and aspirations about the future, so that children can be put at the heart of our country’s recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Parents and teachers are invited to complete the Adult Survey to share their views about the future for children and young people today, and what they think might be holding young people back.

The results from the survey will help the Children’s Commissioner to identify the barriers preventing children and young people from reaching their potential, put forward solutions and set ambitious goals for our country to achieve in the future. If you want to take part in the survey, use the links below:

The Big Ask
The Big Ask Adult Survey
Frequently Asked Questions

Latest news & views

The Sunday Times reported that plans are being drawn up to offer Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to all children aged 12 and over – to increase general immunity across the population, and avoid schools having to close due to outbreaks. RE and philosophy teachers across the land will have a great time discussing the ethical pros and cons of this move; heads will add to the mix the prospect of more vaccination days in the months to come.

Teaching unions and others have written to the Education Secretary, asking for the requirement for secondary-age pupils to wear masks in class to remain. They claim that current rates of vaccination are not yet sufficient to fully mitigate the impact of transmission among children on infection rates in the community.

Their letter comes at the same time as new data shows that COVID ratesamong secondary school teachers and students have dropped significantly even after the reopening of schools in March. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that about 0.32 per cent of staff in secondary schools tested positive in March, down from 1.64 per cent in December. For students, the percentage was 0.33 per cent, compared with 1.22 per cent in December.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) had their AGM this weekend – what better way to spend a Bank Holiday – and their General Secretary Paul Whiteman has warned that redundancies caused by financial pressures on schools could undermine the national education recovery effort from Covid-19. He also said that the work to support pupils to catch up could be hit by a significant loss of senior leadership from the school system once the worst of the pandemic is over.

In terms of opinion pieces, the Guardian has put Gavin Williamson on the naughty step, saying that his plans for education are “not fit for purpose.”They’ve listened to his recent announcements and concluded “…That Mr Williamson could find nothing more original to do, in a tumultuous week, than read from an old script about full academisation, speaks volumes. It is the DfE, not maintained schools, that needs a change.” 

David Spendlove from the University of Manchester worries that the current review of initial teacher training (ITT) is not genuinely impartial, and has it in for certain providers of ITT. He argues that the policy direction is shaping up to be an existential threat to university education departments.

Schools Week has a great profile of Sarah Lewis – a brave soul who made the jump from a very senior role at the Department for Education to the front line, where she now runs Langley Park Learning Trust. It’s well worth a read.

Making a bold case for a hard ban on mobile phones in schools is Anna McShane. Arguing that they undermine safety and learning, she writes “Any adult who has emerged from the rabbit hole of social media only to realise an entire evening has passed them by should be fighting for our children to be free of similar distraction in classrooms.” 

Have a great day!